7/01/2002

5
Written, Directed and Produced by Kiko Jones
A Ballsy Production

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This issue marks a first: instead of 5 random or dedicated topics, we offer you an extended one: an essay on the nature of immortality in rock and roll. Let us know what you think.

Speaking of which, we were expecting and looking forward to your comments on guest editor Greg Casseus’ rather informative list of lost soul/R&B classics in our previous issue [5- 6/24/02] but nary a peep. Are you guys awake? Have we outlasted our welcome with you already? How about this: if you want us to continue sending you "5", get back to us ASAP, just to confirm you’re still interested. Otherwise, we’ll leave you be. Stay cool out there.

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For those of you that haven’t heard the sad news, legendary Who bassist John Entwhistle died of a heart attack on June 27th in Las Vegas. The Who’s Summer 2002 tour was supposed to start the following day. Head Who Pete Townshend has confirmed that the band will indeed perform the tour despite their loss. No word on when exactly that will be or who will assume bass duties. Entwhistle was 57 years old.

Later,
-KJ

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WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO:

AZUL REVOLVER / El Disco Cromatico (MP3.com)
IDAHO / The Palms EP (Caroline)
MARK MIRANDA / It’s Not You, It’s Me (advance copy)
SMASHING PUMPKINS / Pisces Iscariot (Virgin)
YES / The Yes Album (Atlantic)

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WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO ?

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IS LENNY KRAVITZ A LEGEND?

As rock rolls into a new millennium and the artists that laid the foundation and/or changed the face of the genre settle into middle age and even--gasp!--senior citizenship (just to give you some perspective, Chuck Berry is 75; Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson are both 60; latter-day giants Prince, the members of U2 and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are all in their early 40s), we can’t hope but wonder if any of today’s veterans--Lenny Kravitz and Sheryl Crow, for instance--have earned enough stripes to march into the collective consciousness as legendary figures.

As a Gen-Xer in our mid 30s, we grew up in the shadow of the rock and roll greats of the ‘60s and ‘70s: too young to have experienced their music firsthand, but old enough to have been around when they were still staples of FM radio and not the dreaded "Classic Rock" radio format. As we’ve gotten older but stayed involved in popular music on a regular basis, we’ve seen a new generation of rock and roll fans emerge around us. This new breed seems to fall into 3 particular categories: those who recognize and enjoy the classics that preceded them; those immersed in the music of today with little or no interest in anything recorded before, say, 1989; and those who aren’t necessarily swayed by the sounds of today, but aren’t entirely convinced about the merits of the titans of yesteryear. It’s this latter group that brings us to the crux of our initial question.

In casual conversation, we have found that this faction may understand how The Beatles, for example, changed the whole scope and canvas of rock music, but can’t comprehend why we still fuss so much over them. "Hey, it’s easy to be an innovator when not much has been done", they say. Valid point. But it’s a premise that opens up a can of worms so huge that it could easily inherit the Earth. It did get us thinking, however. Namely, are we holding today’s artists to a lower artistic standard and thus expecting and consequently settling for less? Is this an issue of modern complacency or just a sense of them not being able to reach the heights scaled by the greats at their mightiest, so we adjust accordingly? And is selling records and being around for a while basis enough for transcending the ranks and moving on to immortality?

Perspective, as always, is a determining factor in establishing a criteria. Let’s use as an example, two albums from the same era and more or less similar appeal. We can easily agree that in hindsight, Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction was not only a kick-ass record, but one of the great albums of the genre. In contrast, Def Leppard’s Pyromania fails to reach the same plateau. This is not to say that Pyromania is a dud, but a classic is supposed to be timeless, groundbreaking or influential. It did sell a gazillion copies, but then again, so did Milli Vanilli. Once again, what we’re trying to get at, is this: are artists who have sold millions of records and proven their longevity, automatically on the short list for canonization? Granted, the combination of multi-platinum sales and permanence is not a walk in the park, but membership in this club is exclusive in its quantity, not quality: Celine Dion, anyone? It may be incredibly easy to defend and demonstrate the eminence of James Brown or Led Zeppelin to a new generation, but for many of them, the waters get decidedly murky when we factor in highly influential and enduring artists such as The Velvet Underground and Big Star, underground darlings whose record sales are practically negligible in the grand scheme of all things mainstream.

We’ve been privy to various exchanges where albums comparable to the aforementioned Pyromania are considered classics. In most cases, they are just relics from fondly remembered days of youth, lacking the necessary qualifications for greatness and now looked back at with fervent nostalgia. Yes, we know: we are all guilty of this from time to time. But is this the mentality that will bestow upon artists like Kravitz and Crow--albeit as talented and popular ones as these--legendary status in a few years time? Have the rules changed or has it always been just our vantage point in time that has ultimately made the difference? Ironically, it seems that only time will tell for sure.

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STUPID PET TRICKS: According to researchers, termites go through wood twice as fast if rock music is being played. Interpret that as you wish.

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Remember, "5" can now also be viewed at: http://kikojones5.blogspot.com/

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Brazilian Beat
The Most Rockin’ Brazilian Party in NYC !!!
Every Sun from 9 PM-2 AM
@ Black Betty
366 Metropolitan Ave (corner of Havermeyer St)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
DJs Greg Caz, Sean Marquand and Claudio Medusa
Spinning the best of the very best.
Be there !!!

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La Ruta’s latest release
Bailando En La Tierra de los Zombies
Out now on 220 Records.
Available from 220 Records: usa220records@yahoo.com
Or directly from La Ruta: http://geocities.com/LaRuta

Also on sale at these fine music outlets:
-in Manhattan:

Rufi Music
4095 Broadway
Washington Heights
212-927-1140

-in Brooklyn:

Somethin’ Else
294 5th Ave
Park Slope
718-768-5131

SoundTrack
119 7th Ave
Park Slope
718-622-1888


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